My husband Jerry and I sat down eagerly to listen to the first lesson in the audio portion of the Total Transformation program. We had already completed the introduction and couldn’t wait to hear the good news: How to stop our son Thomas’ obnoxious, abusive and disrespectful behavior!
Thomas is our 11 year old son (from my previous marriage) and he happens to have special needs which include Asperger’s, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Bipolar Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Quite the mouthful and handful!
While our youngest son (Brandon, who has another form of autism called PDD/NOS) is not as much of a problem as Thomas is, behaviorally speaking, he is learning some bad habits from his older brother.
Jerry and I had hoped that with this program we were going to learn the secrets to correcting Thomas’ behavior. We thought it was going to begin straight away with lesson one.
Instead, we were taught that first you have to diagnose the problem before you can fix it. I wanted to say But we already KNOW what he’s doing wrong! While that is true, this lesson helped us identify WHY these problems exist. We learned what patterns we have fallen into that have allowed Thomas misbehavior to continue. That’s not the same as saying it’s our fault. Because we also learned that a child’s misbehavior is not the fault of parents. However, parents do fall into traps set by their kids to perpetuate the misbehavior.
Jerry and I learned that while our children are special needs, it doesn’t matter so much. Just because a child has a diagnosis does not mean we cannot or should not hold them accountable for their behavior. It teaches the child to use their problems — or challenges — as crutches. While some children are more sensitive than others and require more understanding, every child needs to learn proper behavior. Perhaps they just have to be taught a different way. After all, as James Lehman points out, a child with Bipolar Disorder will still need to learn how to hold a job (accept authority) and will still get punished for breaking laws.
We also learned the characteristics that Thomas uses to avoid responsibility and accountability. His biggest ones are the Put-Off, Victim Stance, and Injustice. He will use excuses of unfairness, blaming of someone or something else in order to put off doing what he is told. He will find it easier to argue than doing the task he is being told to do.
For instance, he will engage Jerry in a debate over whose mess it is when Jerry tells him he needs to pick up the family room. Jerry will expend tons of energy convincing Thomas that it is his mess. I say, It doesn’t matter whose mess it is. You’re being told to pick it up. My response gets compliance immediately whereas, ten minutes later, Jerry’s still arguing. Jerry doesn’t give up, but it does prolong the time Thomas has before he has to do it.
And one of the pitfalls that I do fall into a lot is called “One-way Training”. I used to hesitate when correcting Thomas. While in the past year or two, I’ve stopped ignoring the misbehavior, I have found myself still doing it occasionally.
I know that this, too, has to change.
Do you have any questions for Heather as her family goes through The Total Transformation Program? Does your child use things like “the victim stance” to avoid responsibility. Leave your comments here.
About Heather E Sedlock
Heather is a mom of two special needs children and has spent over a decade working with them and other children who present challenging behaviors. She has been writing for over 20 years.